Thanks to www.ledger-enquirer.com for this story.
Long-time 'neighbors' to serve town
Columbus natives both elected to city council in Milton, Ga.
BY LARRY GIERER - firstname.lastname@example.org --
They graduated one year apart from the same high school. They even participated in the same Boy Scout troop. As adults, they've lived in the same north Georgia area for years. Still, they were strangers.
Columbus natives Burt Hewitt and Alan Tart will be seeing a lot of each other for the next four years. On Tuesday, both were elected to the city council in Milton, Ga.
Both defeated incumbents in the town that has been incorporated for just one year.
Both ran on the same campaign platform, and that was to keep the big city sprawl of Atlanta out of Milton.
The first time the two met was at a political meeting. This was before either had decided to run for office."We just started talking," said Hewitt, "and were amazed about what we discovered.""At first, I asked if he was from Columbus, Ohio," Tart said.
Tart is a 1992 graduate of Hardaway High School and Hewitt was in the 1993 class.
Following graduation from high school, Hewitt attended Auburn University in Alabama and Tart went to Berry College in Rome, Ga.
Tart, who has worked at Northwest Regional Hospital in Rome, and taught for one year at Hardaway, is currently a retail food specialist for the Food and Drug Administration. He was elected by the other 22 specialists in the country as their leader.Hewitt is regional sales manager for Volk Enterprises, which supplies packaging materials to the meat and poultry industries.
Hewitt has a wife, Ivey, and three daughters. Tart has a partner, David, and a daughter.
Milton, with a population of approximately 20,000, is in the northwestern section of Fulton County.
Hewitt said 86 percent of the city is zoned agricultural. It is not cluttered. His house, for example, has 90 acres of vacant land behind it. Those acres go for $100,000 apiece. It is a wealthy area that is 80 percent Republican.
"My opponent tried to label me a Democrat. That's a serious charge around here," said Tart, laughing. "Since I work for the government, he tried to paint me as someone who favors big government. It didn't work."
"It was a nasty campaign," Hewitt said. "A lot of lies about us in e-mails. It was a way for them to not have to talk about their own performance in office."
Both men won in a landslide.
Much of the city uses septic tanks. Both Hewitt and Tart campaigned that they would fight the extension of sewer service into the city and keep the small town character.
"The expansion of the sewer service would bring the increased density and increased traffic we don't want. We feel we have a little oasis here," Hewitt said.
The part of town in which Tart lives isn't quite as rural as where Hewitt resides. "We already have more of a problem with crime," Tart said. "That's something I want to clean up."
The move of Tart and Hewitt into politics shouldn't have been surprising. Both have been diligent workers in different areas of the city.
Both said providing Milton with "strong leadership" is why they ran.
"I'm sure we'll disagree on some issues," Hewitt said.
"But," Tart said, "we'll keep it friendly."